Letting circumstances decide our fate is hardly the best way to get the most out of life’s opportunities.
Luckily, there’s more to good decision-making than merely going with your gut.
When you know how to do it, the hard choices seem almost clear-cut.
1. The mind-body connection
You can’t make a good choice on a bad day.
When you find yourself too anxious to analyze things, shift gears. Go for a run. Go to sleep.
Resetting your body often opens your mind to a new perspective.
2. You first
Think about who you are.
As Roy E. Disney, nephew to Walt and the man often credited with revitalizing the family business, once said, “When your values are dear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
Also a factor: how people close to you will be affected by the choice.
Do not, however, use others as an excuse to head down the wrong path (for example, “I have to save for the kids’ college fund; therefore, I must accept this 80-hour-a-week job”).
3. Accept the unknown
It’s natural to want to figure out all the what-ifs before taking the plunge, but like calculating pi to 1,000 places in your head, it simply can’t be done.
The sooner you accept that there will always be some degree of risk involved in your choice, the more confidence you will have in making it.
Don’t act impulsively, but also don’t wait so long that you can’t make the choice yourself.”
4. Nothing is set in stone
Before you decide, give yourself permission to change your mind.
Life is full of second chances.
But don’t reverse course just because you encounter one or two obstacles.
Transition and change require time and effort.
Make a serious commitment to your choice.
5. Let the rest go
You’ve made up your mind, so stop dwelling on options you didn’t choose.
Believing in your decision is critical to achieving success.
Getting it right
David McDermott, MD, a former surgeon who now teaches neurolinguistic programming, says you can make even the smallest choice easier if you follow the steps of a basic decision-making model.
1. Define the situation and be clear about what you want.
Make sure you know exactly what is at stake and what you want to achieve.
Define your goals in positive terms rather than in terms of what you don’t want.
Generate a list of alternatives
In order to choose, you need to have options – even if there are only two.
Weigh the pros and cons; bring your experience to bear; do research if necessary.
Do not obsess.
Make a selection
Choose the most appealing alternative.
You may be choosing rationally or intuitively – both are valid processes as long as you’ve followed the steps.
Don’t just choose on paper, execute your plan.
All content taken from Life: The Reader’s Digest Version.